Diary: Week 18


May 1-7

SATURDAY Ahead of tomorrow’s TV finale of the current series of Line of Duty, two real anti-corruption cops have given their verdict: “Having considered the evidence… we can conclude that Line of Duty’s AC-12 has crossed the line, breached the code of ethics and failed to diligently carry out their duties.”

πŸ“Œ All bets were on Manchester, but Merseyside might yet become capital of the much-trumpeted Northern Powerhouse.

Read the full story here…

Ed McBain’s Long Time No See, Chapter 12, in one paragraph… Carella toys with the conflicting accounts of the Roxanne “rape” story. Stanley the orphaned guide dog has still not found a new home. And forensics have matched the soil under Jimmy’s fingernails with that in his window box. Carella takes delivery of Jimmy’s Army file and starts to track down his closest colleagues. One of them was weirdly promoted in a very short time frame.

SUNDAY Angela Merkel’s successor in Germany is likely to be one of two coalition party leaders, from the Greens and/or the CDU. Both have differing views on foreign policy, and especially on relations with Russia and China. The Autumn election in Germany thus becomes a magnifying glass on Northern Hemisphere geopolitics, with different forms of autocracy (Russia, China) versus different forms of democracy (Europe, the USA).

πŸ“Œ Chapter 13 of Ed McBain’s Long Time No See provides the moment of breakthrough… Carella interviews Jimmy’s commanding officer, who had for some reason been fast-tracked to Major shortly after the wartime incident in which Jimmy lost his eyesight. He appears to be quite dim on the facts. Meanwhile, detective Cotton Hawes interviews the rest of Jimmy’s former Army colleagues, who all give a roughly consistent account of the mortar attack in which one of their officers was killed and Jimmy was blinded. Back in the city, an attempted assault on a blind person is thwarted by his guide dog, Ralph, biting the assailant. The victim also claims to have detected the smell of chloroform.

πŸ“Œ Our first outing to a place peopled by strangers is a timed-visit to the flea market in Bethnal Green. It was full of well-behaved customers in search of midcentury bargains. My wife tells me there is a lot more wicker and rattan around these days.

Outside Bethnal Green flea market…

πŸ“Œ Andrew Rawnsley will not be joining the effort to trivialise the interior redecoration of the Prime Minister’s office apartment. β€œIf a man can’t be straight about how he paid for his sofa, what else might he lie about?”

πŸ“Œ Protesting football fans have again made an impact with a demonstration at Old Trafford that caused the scheduled game of Man Utd vs Liverpool to be postponed. Anyone plotting a real overthrow of power might reflect on the willingness of football fans to take collective action.

πŸ“Œ The conclusion of Line of Duty saw the series pushing the idea of anti-corruption in a fascinating direction with quite strong political references and implications. The primacy of the ‘denial’ by those in high office, stated strongly as if it were undisputed fact was seen for the shady device that it is. The bent copper boasts under police caution that he is safe because “officially” there are no bent coppers. The Chief Constable claims victory in an organised-crime case cracked by the anti-corruption unit AC-12, but fails to state that it was a case of institutional police corruption.

πŸ“Œ Must experiment with the scale/resolution settings on digital images. The photo above, from Bethnal Green, has gained a grainy, bad screen-printed look.

MONDAY With any luck, the political shenanigans of David Cameron and Boris Johnson might just be the final nail in the coffin for government by a privileged elite. The public-school institutional right to rule appears to be drowning in its own conceit. It’s hard now, with Cameron’s demise and Johnson’s public exposure, to imagine its survival. Hard, but not impossible.

πŸ“Œ Today marks 100 years since the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which partitioned Ireland, came into force. A series of essays in the Socialist Worker casts Ireland’s current predicament in a new light.

πŸ“Œ Bev made a temporary stand for Faye’s memorial birdbath. I emphasise the word temporary.

Memorial bird bath…

πŸ“Œ Ed McBain’s Long Time No See, Chapter 14, in prΓ©cis… No one wants Stanley, the orphan guide dog, and Carella is drawing blanks in the murder investigations, but is convinced the truth lies somewhere among Jimmy’s Army colleagues. A police psychologist gives him a Freudian analysis of Jimmy’s nightmares and the penny drops. The nightmares are a transference of Jimmy’s combat experience, during which an officer is killed. But Carella still has very little evidence, so when he finds a safe-deposit-box key hanging from Stanley’s collar, the case takes a real turn.

πŸ“Œ The rise of the Greens in Germany looks unstoppable. If they get a big majority in September, Brexit Britain might start to look like a pathetically shrivelled European state.

TUESDAY Another Star Wars Day (May The 4th Be With You) arrives. There is a setting on our new oven called FORCE, which I intend to use today to cook a piece of fish.

πŸ“Œ Long Time No See, Chapter 15, condensed… The safe deposit box contains a copy of a blackmail/extortion letter from Jimmy to the killer, Major Tatalgia, threatening to expose the murder of a fellow officer in the field of battle. Carella nails the case in an interview that ends with the revelation of an incriminating dog-bite wound on Tatalgia’s ankle and a subsequent confession.  The End.

πŸ“Œ Bumped into Alain on Whitecross Street. He said that during the lockdown his weight dropped to under 70kg. He was looking slim but spirited. He said he rebuilt his strength with long power walks and at the outdoor gym at Spa Fields, Exmouth Market.

πŸ“Œ In last week’s Headway Home Studio Alex posed as a harlequin as our model. Today I got a copy of Sam’s picture.

Harlequin Alex, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ A fascinating article in The Conversation describes a new craze among Chinese millennials called Sang Culture, in which despondency, self-deprecation, self-loathing and a loser mentality have grown into a political statement.

πŸ“Œ I don’t believe we spent 5 minutes discussing the size, positioning and proportionality of Alexander Armstrong’s ears.

WEDNESDAY According to an article in The Conversation, all the talk about Net Zero carbon emissions has lulled us into a “burn now, pay later” belief that technology will march to the rescue and suck all the bad emissions out of the atmosphere.

πŸ“Œ The Guardian is 200 today. When I had my near-death experience I hoped I would survive to see this day. I gave 30 years of my life to it, and it paid me for 30 years, and still does.

Looking good at 200…

πŸ“Œ Tomorrow’s nationwide elections will tell us whether Wales and Scotland want to stay friends with England. If friends is what you can call it. Both countries are well on their way to independence.

πŸ“Œ The first big Brexit fight with France is not surprisingly all about fish.

πŸ“Œ Chummy exploded when her chicken-and-mushroom pies got burned: “Bally botheration!”

THURSDAY the latest space-junk story in The Conversation…

… has buried inside it reference to something called the Graveyard Orbit, which sounds like the basis of a macabre sci-fi TV comedy in which discount space-junk funerals are conducted by a motley crew of cosmic undertakers.

πŸ“Œ The space-junk story also names Australia as the holder of the award for  β€œwho can be hit by the biggest piece of space junk”, which happened in 1979 when a 77-tonne piece of the crumbling US space station Sky Lab landed uncomfortably on the Western Australian town of Esperance.

πŸ“Œ The big Brexit Fight with France continues with gunboats and tit-for-tat threats. Turns out that Jersey is not attached to the UK National Grid and France can turn off the electricity off at any time.

πŸ“Œ CNN says the big Brexit Fight with France is a declaration of war in all but name. It’s report states that what started as a protest has been twisted into a blockade and is now a standoff. It also suggests it was predictable: “When you reach a deal at the 11th hour and don’t adequately tell the affected parties what it means for them, issues like this are inevitable”… is the quote from Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King’s College London. 

πŸ“Œ I thought my days of fishing other people’s rubbish out of recycling bins was over. Until I found an old guitar, which has now become a “project”. Watch this space.

Can you tell it used to be a guitar?

πŸ“Œ If Labour Remainers don’t get to grips with what’s to be salvaged from the Leave vote, the party will Remain out of power for decades… Another cold stare at reality from Larry Elliot.

FRIDAY The repair and refinishing of the wooden parquet floor in our living room is not going well. The first coat of the stained finish was patchy – the right shade in some parts, very dark in others. Now re-stripped, the floor is ready for a fresh attempt.

πŸ“Œ That’s that, then…

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ Headway Home Studio was all about flowers, so I made a flower person.

Flower to the people…

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde is showing no mercy.

πŸ“Œ My wife laughed at me for being shorter than Napoleon.

πŸ“Œ The new floor finish is a vast improvement…

Floor show…

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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